Original publication: November 2018
Authors: Christer GUSTAFSSON (chapters 2, 3, 4 and 6) and Balázs MELLÁR (chapters 1 and 5)
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Best practices in sustainable management and safeguarding of cultural heritage in the EU

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  • While many people still consider cultural heritage as an obstacle to economic growth or as a luxury, it is increasingly regarded as positive contributor to Europe’s competitiveness and GDP.
  • Today the focus of the cultural heritage sector is no longer just on preservation and protection of monuments. It has become more important to be able to find new activities to take place in historic buildings and landscapes and to find new uses for old buildings (adaptive reuse).
  • We can observe a transition from conservation of tangible heritage to transmission of intangible heritage. Our current day challenges imply that conservation should not start from the objects only, but to a larger degree from the human beings.
  • The case studies presented in this study show that the focus is shifting away from preservation and protection based on a supply-driven planning concept where heritage advocators try to convince the rest of the society of the importance to safeguard historic buildings. Instead a demand-driven heritage-led development can be noticed today, where the emphasis is on the spill-over effects of cultural heritage projects which are linked to e.g. regional development strategies in collaboration with other sectors and disciplines.
  • Good practices for managing and safeguarding cultural heritage include: stimulating interaction between the groups belonging to different disciplinary fields; involving private sector and supply chains, which usually are not involved in cultural processes; holistic approach; focusing on the human side and enhancing urban liveability; promoting interaction between the groups belonging to different disciplinary fields; combining heritage protection plans with regional development strategies into heritage-led specialisation strategies; integration of regional and national levels; and participatory bottom-up planning.
  • The economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts of cultural heritage are generally positive.
  • The cultural heritage sector employs over 300,000 people in Europe and 7.8 million European jobs are indirectly linked to it.
  • The total turnover generated in industries closely linked to cultural heritage is € 498 billion per year, or 3% of the EU GDP.
  • Cultural heritage can be regarded as enabler of social cohesion and inclusion and a driver for equity and inclusive economic development in the urban economy. Furthermore, cultural heritage and historic quarters of cities can improve liveability, resilience and sustainability of both older and new urban areas.
  • The positive impact of cultural heritage has been recognised also at EU level and today a large number of European Union policies, programmes and activities contribute to preserving and developing cultural heritage.
  • The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage is a sign of recognition of the yet undervalued impact of cultural heritage on societies and an opportunity to raise awareness of the social and economic importance of cultural heritage and to celebrate Europe’s cultural richness and diversity.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all those who provided me the possibility to complete this report.  A special gratitude I give to my colleagues in the expert panel of the European Heritage Label; Matthias Ripp, Jacek Purchla and especially Beatrice Kelly together with Stefano Della Torre, Gediminas Rutkauskas and Ragnar Siil whose contribution in preparing the case studies, helped me in writing this report.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/601-988

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